H-factor in leadership. Do we really need it?
For some individuals leadership is a state of mind - as if they were saying “once a leader always a leader.” It is a tricky path to insolence and audacity. Being a true leader means learning whole your life, staying humble and above all serving people around you. Leaders who consider themselves to be better than others, who think they know it all and who cannot accept feedback have a long way ahead to understand what true leadership is. We live in the world where ego gets sometimes too much attention and where arrogance makes headlines. To be an aspiring leader we need something else - we need humility, empathy and authenticity. But are you strong enough to be this kind of leader? The leader who stays humble, inspires people and understands that the genius is hidden in their team.
I am warning there will be many gifs here. 🙃
In Cambridge dictionary humility is defined as the quality of not being proud because you are aware of your bad qualities. At work it means that we recognise both our strengths and weaknesses or limitations. Humility makes us recognise that the qualities that make us great do not make us better than anyone else. Humble leaders above all possess a desire to learn, focus on collaboration and the growth of their team. They care about people.
From where I am standing humble leadership should be implemented in every management style. I often hear managers complimenting individuals for their domain knowledge or specific technical skills while disregarding traits like empathy or emotional intelligence which are in fact harder to learn than any others. To create healthy work environment and help employees grow leaders have to learn humility first.
It does not matter if you are a founder of the company, you have the title of CEO, COO, CTO or any other C-level position. It does not matter if you are a manager, an architect oraz a tech leader. The point is that you are still a human being with less or more experience. Leaders who practice humble leadership listen to their team. They do not pretend they know everything. Active listening helps them build strong relationship with colleagues the consequence of which is open communication, trust and eventually success.
Remember that every conversation is an opportunity to learn something new. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote - in my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him. Listen to your team, give them space to talk and then reflect and respond appropriately.
If you understand your own blind spots, you usually find it easier to give and receive feedback. And feedback is nothing else than a great productivity booster. Since we know we can do something better or in a different way, we can optimise our work. Humble leaders are not afraid of talking about they own flaws and they are not afraid of admitting they made a mistake. Give your team members, partners, co-workers some space for sharing feedback. It helps both them and you grow in the long term. First of all, it is a learning experience - every time you get feedback, you gain a new insight and a new perspective. Humble leaders react to feedback with empathy and great openness. They understand the good intention which proceeds.
You might be a leader and you might be an expert, but there are still loads of things you do not know. And as long as you do not realise it, may the force be with your team, the force and patience. Because they will need it.
Remember that there are and will be always people who have greater knowledge than you. Humble leaders know how significant a growth mindset is. You don have to know all the answers and please DON’T pretend you have all the answers. Remember that you can be both humble and ambitious at the same time. There is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is when you have a know-it-all quality and you look down on your team. What is wrong is when you make sarcastic jokes about people you work with. And finally what is wrong is when you are a leader and this label means so much to you that your behaviours and choices are controlled by it.
You are your team’s advocate. Your are not here to criticise people you work with. You are here to inspire, motivate and mentor. As a leader your goal should be creating a positive and healthy work environment. Leaders who value humility use their knowledge and experience to support others in their career. Help your team members understand a new topic, a new technology, help them solve a problem in a project. Share your expertise with people inside and outside the organisation. Remember that your goal is your team’s goal. The collaboration is the key.
True leaders are people who take care of their team in the first place. They provide their team members with all the tools and resources they need to grow. They empower the people they work with, and do you?
The best leaders acknowledge their contributors. Being a leader is always about recognising and respecting the efforts and ideas of others. Never take credit for someone’s else work. When you talk with someone and this person inspires you with some idea, do not forget to say thank you. And please - do not take this idea as your own. It does not matter whether a good idea comes from either a senior-level employee or an intern, humble leaders always appreciate the input from everyone.
Do not allow your ego to overpower your positions and knowledge. Do not allow your ego to take over just because you are in a leader’s position. Praise people you work with. Appreciate their effort and make them feel valued for their work. You can do it on 1:1 meetings or in a group forum. Adjust the method to a particular person.
We all posses something which is called by psychologists H factor. Some people have very high level of it, some have rather low. H factor stands for Honesty-Humility, one of six basic dimensions of human’s personality. This factor is especially important if we talk about leadership as it affects the way we perceive ourselves and people around us. It tells a lot about our vision of the world.
You might be a leader in your team or organisation, but the title does not let you and should not let you be arrogant. Honest and humble leadership build confidence. Whenever two or more people have to work together, basic honesty is a fundamental requirement whereas humility foster learning experience and engagement.
I really love the term “humbition” which describes people who are focused on their work not themselves. They seek for success, but they are humble when it arrives.
Be H-leader, the leader you would like to have on your own. And remember to look at the mirror as self-reflection is something we all need. It is critical for our development. Think about your current level of skills, your strengths and weaknesses, patterns of behaviour. Are you a leader or a manger you would admire on your own?
You can be at the same time intelligent, humble and sexy. Why not! 😉